The team to beat in this season’s National Women’s League appears to be the Canterbury United Pride after last year’s runners-up posted their second big win in succession after sweeping aside Loaded WaiBOP 6-0 in Christchurch.
Much of the damage in the Pride’s first-up 4-0 win over Capital was done by Annalie Longo – who scored twice and set up another – and the Football Ferns playmaker was again an influential figure today, striking her third goal of the campaign in stoppage time to put the icing on the cake of another rampant display at English Park.
But the main goal-scoring heroine on this occasion was Monique Barker, who opened the scoring in just the second minute and went on to notch a hat-trick.
After witnessing his side concede four unanswered goals in their first game against Auckland, coach Michael Mayne would have wanted WaiBOP to keep things tight for as long as possible but that went out the window almost straight away when a misplaced goal kick was intercepted, allowing Longo to tee up Barker for her first of the afternoon.
The hosts were two up just over ten minutes later when Gabi Rennie found the net via a deflection inside the box and the game was all but over soon after when Longo and Barker again combined to lethal effect, the latter finishing from ten yards after being picked out by a pin-point cross from her skipper.
Jayda Stewart then received the ball in the box from Rennie before turning and unleashing a stunning strike into the top corner.
At 4-0 down with barely half an hour on the clock, WaiBOP could have feared the worst but the teams will have been pleased with their response. WaiBOP finished the half with a couple of sights of goal, Kelli Brown (pictured) and Tiana Hill both firing over the bar, and they proved much harder to break down in the second period.
The play became more evenly contested and it wasn’t until the dying stages that Canterbury were finally able to add to their tally. Barker first completed her hat-trick by tucking home a Cody Taylor pull-back and there was just enough time for Longo to get on the scoresheet, latching onto a well-placed long ball before seeing off a challenge and slotting Canterbury’s sixth.
WaiBOP will not get the opportunity to bounce back quickly as we have the bye next week, but that gives head coach, Michael Mayne, and his coaching staff two full weeks to work with the side ahead of their next assignment.
Canterbury United Pride 6-0 Loaded WaiBOP (ht: 0-0)CUP: Monique Barker 3, Gabi Rennie, Jayda Stewart, Annalie Longo.WBP: none.
WaiBOP starting XI: 1. Georgia Candy, 6. Jayden Watts (16. Grace Wisnewski), 7. Emma Cawte, 9. Helen Tabot, 10. Ella Golding, 11. Lilly Muspratt (19. Ashley Weld), 12. Kelli Brown, 13. Tiana Hill, 15. Grace Cox (8. Stella Neems), 17. Kim Maguire (4. Olivia Hooper), 20. Chelsea Elliott.
Hamilton Brian Perry Sports House, Wintec Rotokauri Campus, Akoranga Drive, Hamilton. Tauranga Sport BOP, 406 Devonport Road, Tauranga.
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